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Scottish Physio Makes Remarkable Claim About Ireland's Physicality

Scottish Physio Makes Remarkable Claim About Ireland's Physicality
By Michael McCarthy
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There was a time in Irish rugby when a win against Scotland was almost the Holy Grail. Ireland went 12 games without a win against the Scots from 1988 to 2000.

In that time, as rugby trended towards, and eventually dipped it's toe into, professionalism, there was a sorry predictability to Irish international rugby. Fire and bluster for the first 20 minutes, fade badly in the last 20. The likes of Scotland, England, New Zealand, South Africa, and France would "out-physical" us on almost every occasion.

A lot has changed in the last 20 years or so, but probably nothing more than Ireland's physicality.

While certain pundits this are the search for negativity in a team that has won ten international test matches in a row, and accusing Joe Schmidt's team of playing "Warrenball", there's been another claim that all the more remarkable, reliable, and indicative of how far Irish rugby has come.


Scottish flanker John Barclay has been penning a brilliant Six Nations player diary on BBC.com this year. In his latest entry, looking ahead to his team's trip to Dublin tomorrow, he revealed just how bruising they expect the encounter to be and just how physically destructive Ireland are seen by the wider rugby community.

I was talking to our physio the other day and he said he was ordering in more ice bags for Dublin.

He said that, from his perspective, he gets through more ice to nurse more bumps and bruises in games against Ireland and South Africa than any other nation we play. I laughed, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a joke.

Barclay, who has a win in Dublin for Scotland, back in 2010 in Croke Park, knows that Scotland await their toughest test in the Six Nations tomorrow, and will suffer for it afterwards.

We know what's coming at the Aviva. Loads of intensity, loads of attrition. Ireland are in great form and they're well drilled. I'm always saying in this column that whoever looks after the ball best usually wins these games and Ireland look after the ball extremely well.

They had 69% possession and 75% territory and conceded only four penalties against Wales. They had 63% possession and 65% territory and conceded just three penalties against Italy. They had 68% possession and 68% territory against France and gave away only six penalties.

Those are some impressive numbers. They play hard, direct and winning rugby. They run off Conor Murray a lot. About 70% of their ball carries are off nine. They try to grind you down with their power game. They kick to the corner and when they get in your 22, they're very hard to stop. It's a brutal style of rugby, and it's been brutally effective.

"Warrenball" in might be, but the possession stats, penalty stats and the nous of a physio all show that Ireland's displays so far this year have been mightily impressive and Scotland will need to raise their game, even more than they did against England, to match Ireland.

SEE ALSO: Mike Brown Pays The Price For His Poor Performance Against Scotland



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